- Turkey's controversial search for natural gas in the Mediterranean has been extended for five days.
- Greece accuses Ankara of creating unrest.
- Tensions with Turkey have prompted Greece to consider raising its arms costs.
On Tuesday, a Turkish naval official announced that the mission of the research vessel “Ascension Chief,” to explore for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, will be extended until September 12th. Tensions with Turkey have prompted Greece to consider raising its arms costs.
“We favor a joint solution that involves sitting around the table to negotiate with all sides in the eastern Mediterranean, for everyone to benefit from the eastern Mediterranean resources in a just manner or for the sharing [of resources] fairly,” said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey.
The mission was previously extended for a week on August 23. The Greek Foreign Ministry strongly criticized Ankara’s move. “Turkey is actively playing the role of a rioter and an instigator of instability in the region,” the ministry said in a statement.
The recent activities of Turkish ships to explore for gas in the eastern Mediterranean have caused tensions between Ankara and Athens as Turkey conducts gas exploration in areas that the Greek government claims belong to the country.
In contrast, the Turkish government has always emphasized that the explored area is part of the Turkish continental shelf. “Efforts to descend on the riches of the Mediterranean, which are the rights of every country around it, is an example of modern-day colonialism,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey.
“It is comical how (nations) are trying to throw a state that cannot even help itself as bait in front of a regional and global power like Turkey,” Erdogan said.
Increased Armaments Budget
Tensions with Turkey have prompted Greece to consider raising its arms costs. In an interview with Alfa TV, the drawer of the Minister of Finance, Christos Staikouras, announced that parts of the army’s cash reserves would be spent for this purpose.
Staikouras did not provide further details, saying only that how the army’s cash was spent “depends on the priorities of the government and the Department of Defense.” Greece has significantly reduced its defense spending over the past ten years due to the severe financial crisis.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently warned of a confrontation with Greece. “If anyone is willing to pay the price, they can join us.”
“Turkey continues to ignore calls for dialogue and to escalate its provocations,” Greece’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Greece won’t be blackmailed.”
German Foreign Minister warns Turkey and Greece
A new round of disputes between Ankara and Athens began last year when Turkey began exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean and has escalated in recent weeks.
“What we urgently and urgently need now are signs of de-escalation and readiness for dialogue,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said after meeting with Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, in Athens.
Maas likened the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean to a “game of fire,” and warned that the slightest spark could lead to a catastrophe. The history of military tension and war between Greece and Turkey in modern times goes back a century.
Tensions between the two countries have continued in recent decades over a variety of issues, particularly over Cyprus and the waters of the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean.
A new round of seizures has raised the issue of asylum seekers, but the start of Turkish drilling in territorial waters near the Greek islands has sparked controversy.